St James’s Palace, the most senior royal palace, is located in the City of Westminster in London. Although it is no longer used as the principal residence of the monarch, it still holds many important ceremonial meetings and is home to members of the Royal Family.
Some of the most important events in royal history took place at this palace, and here are five facts about this royal residence which you may not know!
Who built St James’s Palace?
The Palace was constructed between 1531 and 1536 by Henry VIII, built on the site of a former leper hospital which was dedicated to St James the Less. It was built mainly in red-brick, with the architecture in Tudor style. Unfortunately, a fire broke out in 1809, destroying parts of the palace. Due to this, most of the interior was remodelled in the 19th century.
The links between Queen Victoria and St James’s Palace
In 1698, Whitehall Palace was destroyed in a fire accident, therefore, the palace became the official home of the British monarch. This was a tradition that was broken by Queen Victoria in 1837 when she decided to move into Buckingham Palace. Three years later, in 1840, Queen Victoria revisited the palace and married Prince Albert in The Chapel Royal.
Henry VIII’s Personal Touch
During his reign, Henry VIII wanted the palace to be his residence away from royal duties, and he was to reside there with his wife at the time, Anne Boleyn. When refurbishments took place, Henry requested that their initials were printed on fireplaces throughout. Unfortunately, by the time these refurbishments were completed, Anne had been executed. Therefore, on the left hand side of the fireplaces the initials read ‘HA’, whereas the right hand side only contains the initial ‘H’.
Which Royals reside at St James’s Palace?
St James’s Palace is the London residence of Princess Anne, Princess Beatrice, and Princess Alexandra. Until April 2018, it also served as the official residence of Princess Eugenie. The palace complex includes York House, where Charles III and his sons used to live, Clarence House, where Charles III now lives with the Queen Consort, and Lancaster House, which is used by HM Government for official receptions.
The Proclamation Gallery
The Proclamation Gallery is part of the palace, and is usually used after the death of a reigning monarch. After the Accession Council has met to declare the new monarch, and the monarch has made a sacred oath to the council, the Garter King of Arms steps onto the gallery, overlooking the Friary Court, and proclaims the new monarch. This last took place on 10th September 2022, during the proclamation of King Charles III. Her Late Majesty was also proclaimed here in 1952.
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